Police bust Hammer Gang

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

Police have rearrested three members of the notorious "Hammer Gang" who escaped from the Johannesburg magistrate's court on May 5.

Two of the gangsters shot at police and collided with a police vehicle when they tried to flee their rearrest at the weekend, but the other gangster was caught eating at a restaurant.

Brighton Sibanda, 38, Richard Dube, 31, and Lindiziwe Mkhize, 34, have been linked to more than 20 bank robberies in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Police spokesman Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said two of the gangsters were arrested in Zola, Soweto on Saturday. The other one was apprehended while dining at a food outlet in Roodepoort, on the West Rand, on the same day.

"When the two were rearrested a shootout ensued between them and the police. One of the men was injured on the leg," Dlamini said.

He said the gang's car collided with a police vehicle when they tried to escape arrest.

"The three were part of a gang of five who held up Standard Bank employees in Booysens in April 2007.

"The gang was arrested in KwaZulu-Natal in July 2007."

He said the three appeared on charges of escaping from lawful custody in the Johannesburg magistrate's court yesterday.

"Their case was postponed to July 29 and they will face charges of bank robbery on that day too," he said.

Dube, Mkhize and Sibanda initially escaped in May after overpowering and assaulting the investigating officer and a court orderly.

They also attempted to disarm the court orderly.

The fourth accused, Duma Dube, 31, was re-arrested at the scene.

The gang allegedly targeted banks and usually used a sledge hammer to smash a glass separating tellers and clients.

Gang leader, Maxwell Khumalo, 28, was dubbed "Hammer Man" and has been linked to about 28 armed bank robberies committed between July 2000 and July 2007. He has been sentenced to 34 years imprisonment.